HVS: While Expo 2015 puts Milan in the spotlight, Rome's hotels see investment


HVS recently released a study looking at hotel numbers in Milan and Rome, noting that Rome has seen some significant investment from international developers. Milan, meanwhile, will get publicity from Expo 2015.

Milan will be getting a lot of attention this year as it hosts the next world fair (Expo Milano 2015) from May 1 to October 31, and the city aims to attract some 20 million visitors during this time. The expo is poised to increase awareness of Milan as a luxury destination—while Rome sees plenty of leisure visitors, Milan's top hotels struggle to attract demand on weekends and during the low season.

Milan may also face oversupply as several new high-end hotels are poised to open over the next few years. Three alone are slated to open before the Expo commences in May: the 104-room Mandarin Oriental, the 240-room Excelsior Hotel Gallia (a Luxury Collection Hotel) and the 139-room Me by Melia. A W hotel has been announced for 2016. 

Rome, on the other hand, currently "lags significantly behind" other European cities in terms of average room rate. HVS suggests that this may be due to the main luxury neighborhood moving from the Via Veneto (where many hotels were established in years past) to the Piazza di Spagna and the Via Condotti. Several hotels in Rome suffer from underinvestment because capital expenditure has been deferred for too long. Some, HVS says, are in need of a complete renovation. 

But the situation may be on an upswing: The Eden Hotel, for one, is expected to undergo "an extensive renovation and repositioning." The hotel was taken over by the Dorchester Collection in 2013, and could compete with Rocco Forte's Hotel de Russie for a prime position in the market. (The property was acquired by the Brunei Investment Agency—owner of the Dorchester Collection—for a reported €105 million in 2013.) 

Also, HVS believes that the St. Regis, InterContinental de la Ville, Boscolo Aleph and Boscolo Palace hotels may see major renovations in the coming years, following significant investment from developers in 2014: Starwood sold The St. Regis to subsidiaries of Constellation Hotels Holding Limited for €110 million or approximately $150.7 million. (The St. Regis flag is remaining as part of a new long-term management agreement.) Qatar's Al Rayyan Tourism and Investment, meanwhile, acquired the luxury Boscolo Aleph Hotel for an undisclosed price, while Qatar-based Katara Hospitality acquired the lease hold interest in the InterContinental De La Ville.

Looking ahead, Shangri-La is rumored to be opening a hotel opposite the Westin on the Via Veneto, and Four Seasons has been "associated" with a project at Piazza Verdi that may include a hotel.